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Minister's praise for Torquay United fans' trust

Torquay United at Plainmoor (Image courtesy: Guy Henderson)

'I want to put on record my thanks to them'

The plight of Torquay United and their fans has been highlighted during a debate in the House of Commons.

Sports minister Stuart Andrew praised the club’s supporters trust for its work in recent weeks while the Gulls have been facing financial problems.

Torquay United are currently in administration, with no news yet on the identity of new owners who have been named as preferred bidders by administrators Begbies Traynor.

The club was docked 10 league points as a result of going into administration, which was triggered when previous owner Clarke Osborne walked away from the club in February saying he could no longer put money into it.

The points deduction put United into a battle to avoid relegation from National League South, which they overcame following victory at Taunton Town in the penultimate game of the season last week.

Torbay MP Kevin Foster asked what recent discussions had been held between the government’s department for culture, media and sport and the National League on the financial sustainability of Torquay United.

Parliamentary undersecretary Stuart Andrew said he shared Mr Foster’s concerns about the financial issues facing the club. He went on: “I urge all parties to find a swift solution to this distressing situation. The government are seeking to support the professional game through the Football Governance Bill, which will establish an independent football regulator.”

Mr Foster told him: “Recent weeks have been difficult for Torquay United fans, with the club entering into administration following years of fans struggling to get answers from the owner, and a completely flawed plan for a new stadium, which made no progress whatsoever.

“What role will preventing the circumstances that have dragged down Torquay United and other clubs play in future developments in how the game is governed?”

Mr Andrew replied: “I agree that meaningful engagement with fans is crucial. I want to put on record my thanks to the Torquay United Supporters Trust for its action to support the club and the fans.

“I share the concerns about the financial situation right across the game. That is exactly why the bill will give powers to the regulator, which will be able to monitor and enforce financial regulation and deal with club ownership, fan engagement and club heritage issues, to ensure that clubs are protected for the very fans who are their bedrock.”

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